WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Friday that a New York meatpacker and a government inspector misunderstood new trade rules when they allowed prohibited veal to be shipped to Japan.
The Japanese government said there was no rush to resume imports of American beef, which were halted when the shipment was discovered last month.
U.S. officials Friday delivered a 475-page report to Tokyo explaining why Brooklyn-based Atlantic Veal & Lamb sent the shipment of prohibited veal cuts. They also laid out steps the United States has taken to prevent further mistakes.
"My hope is that it will not be long before beef trade re-sumes," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said.
However, Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said, "I have no intention to rush to a conclusion."
After a briefing in Tokyo by U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, Nakagawa said, "I'm not trying to prolong the process, but it takes time to explain the report to the Parliament and the public."
Japan's market was worth $1.4 billion annually when its government banned Amer-ican beef in response to the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in 2003. Only recently had the ban been lifted.
At issue is a shipment of veal that arrived in Japan on Jan. 19. The cuts of veal contained backbone, which Asian countries consider at risk for mad cow disease. The cuts are eaten in the United States and are allowed under international trade rules, but Japan's rules are stricter.
According to the Agriculture Department re-port, a Japanese customer had ordered those cuts from Atlantic Veal. Atlantic and its supplier, Ohio-based Golden Veal Corp., were the only only companies allowed to send veal to Japan. That certification has been rescinded.
Plant officials were told repeatedly they couldn't ship backbone to Japan, the report said. They were admonished by the department's Agri-cultural Marketing Service, which certifies exporters.
However, the federal meat inspector at the plant didn't understand the rules, the report said. Inspectors work for the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, a separate agency from AMS.
Inspectors are undergoing more training, and the two agencies will work more closely together, the department said.